Gillian Keegan – 2022 Statement on the Mental Health Strategy

The statement made by Gillian Keegan, the Minister for Care and Mental Health, in the House of Commons on 10 February 2022.

This week, the UK has marked Children’s Mental Health Week with the theme of “growing together.” I am grateful for the brilliant work of our vibrant voluntary and community sector, who are encouraging children and young people to take action to look after their mental health and learn how they can support others.

Across the country, we are talking more about our mental health and wellbeing than ever before. Thanks to the trailblazing courage of campaigners in the public eye, and thousands of quiet conversations in homes, schools and workplaces, more and more people now feel comfortable opening up about their mental health.

Over 4 million people have used our Every Mind Matters resources to make a tailored mind plan to help them take active steps to look after their wellbeing. Initiatives like “Thriving at Work” have driven improvements to workplace wellbeing. The NHS is offering care and support to more people with mental illnesses than ever before, backed by record levels of investment, workforce expansion and the advancing mental health equalities strategy. And we are reforming the Mental Health Act to improve care for people who are acutely unwell and to address ethnic disparities in detention rates.

Since March 2020, the wide-ranging effects of the pandemic and the impacts on mental health have fostered a strong spirit of innovation in the NHS and collaboration across Government. The Government published a cross-Government covid-19 mental health and wellbeing recovery action plan for 2021-22 in March 2021, backed by an additional £500 million. As part of this additional investment, we are accelerating the roll-out of mental health support teams in schools and colleges so that an estimated 3 million children and young people (around 35% of pupils in England) will be covered by these teams by 2023.

But I know there is much more to do. That is why I am announcing my intention to develop a new long-term, cross-Government mental health strategy in the coming year.

The Government will launch a public discussion paper this spring to inform the development of the strategy. This will set us up for a wide-ranging and ambitious conversation about potential ways to improve the nation’s mental health and wellbeing over the coming decade, both within and beyond Government and the NHS. We will be engaging widely, especially with people with experience of mental ill-health, to develop the strategy and build consensus. I will be calling on all parts of society—including teachers, businesses, voluntary organisations, and health and social care leaders—to set out their proposals for how we can shift the dial on mental health.

Alongside this, preventing suicides is a key priority for this Government. I am acutely aware that suicide prevention requires specific, co-ordinated action and national focus, and I am committed to working with the sector over the coming year to review our 2012 suicide prevention strategy for England. I am today announcing around an additional £1.5 million to top up our existing £4 million grant fund, which will help support the suicide prevention voluntary and community sector to meet the needs of people at risk of suicide or in crisis.